One of the biggest bummers of traveling in a foreign country or of camping is usually the complete lack of toast. People think of toast as mainly a breakfast item, but toast deserves to be incorporated into the other meals of the day much more frequently. At breakfast time, plain toast with butter is excellent. But we all know that toast's main responsibility is to serve as a conveyance for delightful things, especially later in the day. Here are a couple of things that we've enjoyed lately with toast in a central role.
When Faye generously decided to share the morels she found in *her* yard, I wanted to make something simple where their earthy taste could be the focus. Putting them on toast was super quick and easy. Call it something French, and it's instantly ready for company!
Pain grillé aux morilles (but you could use other mushrooms easily)
Morels - as many as you can get, washed gently in salt water and thoroughly inspected for intruders (we had about 6 or 8 good sized morels and only a couple of intruders)
Butter - as much as you can countenance
Garlic - 1 clove, chopped
Thyme - about 1 T., fresh from the garden, chopped
Parmesan - freshly grated
Farm bread - toasted
- Chop morels into bite-sized pieces.
- Heat butter over medium high heat and add the chopped garlic. Stir for a minute, until you're smelling the garlic cooking.
- Add the chopped mushrooms and saute several minutes until the excess moisture evaporates. Let the morels start to brown a bit. Stir every 30 seconds or so to let them carmelize.
- After 5 or 10 minutes, when you think they're done, add the thyme and let cook 1 minute more. Add salt and pepper.
- Pile on top of toasts and grate some parmesan over the top. Mmmm. Hors d'oeuvres.
- This would probably be even yummier if you added some cream or creme fraiche to the mushrooms....
Here's one more that has French inspiration since the idea came from a salad near the cathedral at Chartres. The restaurant there served fresh greens tossed in vinaigrette with a piece of melty goat cheese on toast, drizzled with honey and lavender. I wanted to try this with maple syrup since Michigan has maple as a springtime thing. Surprise, it's delicious.
Salade aux herbes et chevre, sirop d'erable
Mixed spring greens, washed and dried
Herbs from the garden - especially spearmint, tarragon, chives, chervil (small amounts of each, 1 -3 teaspoons, chopped, more if you like)
Goat cheese - 1 thick slice per person
Toast - 1 slice per person
Balsamic vinegar - the 20 year old good stuff
*Can include tiny accoutrements like thinly sliced baby radish and/or carrot, or edible flowers
- Tear the greens into bite-sized pieces. Toss with the chopped herbs and small amounts of very tiny accoutrements. (You could at this point toss greens with a vinaigrette, but we didn't find it necessary with the fresh taste of these springy greens)For each serving, pile greens onto a plate.
- Meanwhile, back at the stove, turn on the broiler. For each serving, make a piece of toast with a healthy slice of goat cheese on top. Pop into the broiler and watch like a hawk. Broil just until goat cheese starts to melt and brown (or toast starts getting too done, whichever happens first).
- Perch a cheesy toast on top of each salad plate. Drizzle with maple syrup and your best balsamic vinegar.
- A bit of salt and pepper is good.
- Dig in.